Our topic this week is the evolution of storytelling, which brings to mind two different questions. One is about whether storytelling is an adaptation involved in the evolution of the human species. The other is about how storytelling is changing and evolving with human culture and technology. Obviously, these are related questions, but let’s think about the adaptive function of storytelling first.
What is it
Humans are unique as the only creatures on this planet who tell stories. Whether it be fiction, history, mythology, gossip, daydreams, news, or personal narrative - stories permeate every aspect of our lives. But how did we evolve into such creatures? Are there any possible evolutionary advantages that storytelling might give us? How do stories shape who we are, both as individuals and as a species? John and Ken swap stories with Jonathan Gottschall from Washington & Jefferson College, author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human.